Suck My Tailpipe

My License to Drive review for Blogomatic. I enjoyed it hugely, though it had some serious male gaze issues (essentially the main character wants to bone a sports car, because who doesn’t?) and I may have been a little too mean about the Coreys Two at the end there:

Apparently an ’80s classic that had somehow slipped under my radar, 1988’s License to Drive ticks all the necessary boxes for a teen comedy winner: Ludicrous hair? Check. Overly lusty teenage boys? Check. Zany parents with more comedy chops than the leads?  Stuck-up sibling? Actor with a minor role who’ll one day be more famous than said leads put together? Check, check and checkers. A Corey? Shit, this film has two!

Like most successful teen films of the decade, License to Drive takes a simple, everyday situation for a 16 year-old kid and balloons its importance to such a ridiculous degree that it warrants an action scene, a car chase or at least a dance sequence. It was skipping school in Ferris Bueller and detention in The Breakfast Club, and in this flick it’s a driving license.

Les (Corey Haim) needs to pass his test so that he can woo local bombshell Mercedes (Heather Graham, and no, the subtlety of the writing there wasn’t lost on me either). He’s an ace at the wheel but a lughead in the theory department, so despite impressing his driving examiner (a superbly sadistic James Avery, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air‘s Uncle Phil), he fails to get that fabled laminate card and is forced to wait two years until he can try again.

Not one to be stopped by such feeble things as federal laws, and, egged on by his best friend (Corey Feldman) and his impending date with Mercedes, Les ‘borrows’ his grandfather’s cadillac and sets forth on a night of hijinks, semi-romance and near-death experiences.

The film revels in its cartoonish sense of humour, from crash zooms on the boys’ terrified faces as they head through fences, over ramps and away from punks to Les’s pregnant mother’s (the ditzy and eccentric Carol Kane) strange craving for huge dollops of mashed potato and ketchup at the dinner table, and some of the set pieces that occur – from the opening dream sequence of a red convertible being run down by a demonic school bus to the third-act chase after a gloriously oblivious drunk driver.

Characters aren’t especially full of depth and there’s no profound message to be gleaned from Les driving backwards at speed through traffic to get his mother to the hospital in time to get birth, but you have such a good time that it really doesn’t matter.

It’s a typically 80s slice of escapism and does its job excellently (even making Haim, who I personally consider to be the lesser Corey, tolerable as a lead), but things do get a little uncomfortable when Mercedes gets plastered and is alternately photographed while unconscious, shoved in a boot and then unnaturally forgiving of the whole thing by the next day. Like the cadillac, she’s taken for quite a ride and you’d think she’d be in as bad a state as the car, but no-one seems to really mind that much.

That said, I guess Heather Graham gets the last laugh in the end. I’d happily spend the night in the trunk of a car if it meant not having to do Lost Boys 3.

Too far? Not far enough? Has anyone even seen either of the Lost Boys sequels? Does anybody but me care?

Answers on a postcard. Or in the comment section, whatever, I’m easy.

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